DIVISION ONE NORTH
AFC Sudbury 2 Bury Town 0
A goal in each half, from Luke Callander and ex-Bury youth product Liam Wales, proved to be a just reward for new league leaders AFC’s domination of the A134 derby against an injury-ravaged Bury Town.
In front of a crowd of 769, Bury’s bright start soon faded as AFC began to bombard Neil O’Sullivan’s goal, while opposite number Marcus Garnham was a virtual spectator for much of the game.
Callander finally broke the deadlock in the 39th minute when smashing in via the inside of the left-hand post after O’Sullivan had done well to block at the feet of James Baker, following a neat one-two after the defender brought the ball ably out from the back.
The second half saw the conditions deteriorate, with torrential driving rain in a strong wind.
But, after the hosts weathered an early Bury storm, there was to be no let up in their attacking domination.
The second goal eventually arrived inside the last 10 minutes, with substitute Wales taking the final touch from Baker’s shot at a right-wing corner to divert beyond O’Sullivan and effectively seal the three points.
Bury manager Ben Chenery had had to supplement his starting line-up with teenagers after they went into the derby with an injury crisis which robbed them of six regular starters, while captain Phil Weavers was suspended.
AFC, in stark contrast, were able to name the same starting line-up which beat Witham Town 2-1 on Boxing Day to record their eighth straight Ryman One North victory and extend their club record run (previously six games at step four level).
Chenery had said in the build-up to the first league meeting between the two in five years that he was not coming to ‘park the bus’ with his patched up side, and he was true to his word as the west Suffolk Blues showed attacking intent from the kick-off, without being able to trouble former Ram Meadow hero Garnham.
In an end-to-end frantic start to proceedings, it was a counter-attack by the hosts which almost brought the first goal as Garnham’s long throw sent Jordan Blackwell running clear, but O’Sullivan parried it away for a corner.
Former Bury loanee Joe Maybanks, who had already blazed one over the crossbar, went close, hitting a shot on the run in the penalty area that was not far over the bar.
Another ex-Blues player, Craig Parker, sent a shot rocketing over the bar, while, at the other end, the ball bobbled in the AFC box before on-loan Ipswich Town Academy player Cemal Ramadan failed to get hold of a shot and it trickled through to a grateful Garnham.
In the 37th minute, a poor back header by Matty Collins let Blackwell in on goal, but O’Sullivan again thwarted him.
The almost relentless pressure finally told two minutes later when Callander fired home his 18th of the campaign after Baker’s one-two.
The goal was no less than AFC had deserved, and it should have been added to before the break as Maybanks curled wide and Blackwell saw another effort saved by O’Sullivan when one-on-one, this time the Bury custodian throwing out a right foot to deflect wide.
Callander looked in the mood to inflict further pain on AFC’s fierce rivals and sent a venomous effort just wide before lashing another over the bar.
Bury managed to get into half-time just one goal behind and clearly benefited from the break, starting the second half with renewed purpose, pinning AFC back in the opening stages as the rain began to drive down in a now strong wind.
AFC weathered the early storm though and began to pick up where they left off before the break, with O’Sullivan having to rescue them with several more saves, thwarting Blackwell off his line once again.
Bury’s first shot on target had not come until the 79th minute when substitute Jed Wigley’s low fizzing effort had been comfortably claimed by Garnham.
It was an ex-Bury player, in substitute Wales, who eventually put the result beyond doubt, making it 2-0 after getting the telling deflection on Baker’s 81st minute shot from a contested right-wing corner.
AFC: Garnham, Robinson, Wilkinson, Berquez, Henshaw, Baker, Blackwell (Newman 89), S Clarke, Callander (Wales 76), Parker, Maybanks (G Clarke 80). Unused subs: Bailey, French.
Bury: O’SULLIVAN(MOTM), Skevington, Allen, Collins (Wigley 75), De’ath (Hammett 61), White, Garrett, Hall, Highes, Rammadan (Jolland 78), Canfer. Unsued subs: Bedingham, Nurse.
Free Press Man of The Match: Neil O’Sullivan. Proved himself as a sweeper-keeper in the mould of Tottenham Hotspurs’ Hugo Lloris in the way he continually came out to thwart Jordan Blackwell.